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Fire SafetyWeek

Smoke seeps out from the windows and doors. Inside, the house is dark and filled with the high, excited voices of children, hidden behind the haze that fills the small rooms. A door opens, and the children emerge on hands and knees - laughing. That was the scene at the Andalusia Fire Hall yesterday morning as the kindergartners of Red Level school toured the station and learned about fire safety.

Before the children entered the "smoke house," firefighters talked to them, patiently, simply, but never condescendingly. They explained the dangers of fire and smoke in terms that children understood, educating them without alarming them.

Children from all over the county and the city visited the fire house this week as part of Fire Safety Awareness Week

and the firefighters rose to the challenge of hundreds of curious children the way they rise to all challenges - calmly and capably.

Some of the pointers they gave the children include:

Always have a smoke alarm and test it often.

Crawl

under the smoke, don't try to run through it, since smoke rises.

Plan an escape route and plan of action with your family. Practice fire drills.

Choose a meeting place well away from the house in case you get separated during evacuation.

The firefighters also dressed in full gear, to let them know what they would look like during a fire, telling the children not to be afraid of the bulky yellow suits, helmet and

face mask.

There is a reason October hosts Fire Safety Awareness Week. This is the time of year when the weather begins to cool and people begin to use heaters and fireplaces that have been dormant all summer. Many times, flues, chimneys, wiring and heating elements are not inspected closely before that first use, and fires result.

We think that everyone should take the tour of the fire hall, and the crawl through the "smoke" filled house - after they've listened to a serious lecture about preventing fires in the first place.